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Christian Coleman beats Noah Lyles in Bermuda Grand Prix sprint showdown

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Battle for supremacy: Christian Coleman, right, pipped compatriot Noah Lyles to 100-metre glory in the USATF Bermuda Grand Prix at Flora Duffy Stadium (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

American sprint star Christian Coleman has warned rivals he is gunning for World and Olympic glory after lighting up the track at the USATF Bermuda Grand Prix on Sunday.

All eyes were on the highly anticipated men’s 100 metre showdown between Coleman, compatriot Noah Lyles and Jamaican Ackeem Blake to see who would reign supreme at Flora Duffy Stadium.

The trio certainly did not disappoint, meeting the huge crowd’s expectations in an electrifying race as Coleman prevailed in a wind-assisted time of 9.78sec to pip Lyles (9.80), with Blake wrapping up the podium places in 9.87.

Battle for supremacy: Christian Coleman, right, pipped compatriot Noah Lyles to 100 metres glory in the USATF Bermuda Grand Prix at Flora Duffy Stadium (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

For the 27-year-old, it was positive preparation ahead of a crucial 12 months, with his primary focus on the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August, followed by next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

“My recollection of the race is that it went pretty good,” said Coleman, who was also part of the victorious men’s 4x100 USA red team alongside Kendal Williams, Josephus Lyles and Terrance Laird.

“I knew I had to get out of the blocks and then just hold my own. I didn’t pay too much attention to the pre-race talk. I knew I had a good shot to come out on top if I just executed my race and so it was just about staying focused and reminding myself what I’m capable of.

“I think I’ve got a good shot at the World Championships this year to first make that team and then go out and bring home another medal.

“Hopefully then I can carry that momentum into 2024 and the Olympics. It is going to be a super exciting year, especially coming off the back of Covid and I’m just excited about it because I feel I have a good chance.”

Despite having to settle for the runner-up spot, Lyles, the current 200 metres American record holder, was left satisfied with his performance as well as his overall form at this stage of the season.

“Christian got out good, but I was coming and for a second I thought I outdipped him on the line,” said Lyles, who broke Michael Johnson's 26-year-old American record in the 200 when winning the world title in 19.31 seconds last July.

“I was ready to hit another three more gears, that’s the only thing about the 100 metres, but still seeing that 9.80 is what I want to see, it shows that I’m there with everyone.

“I feel like I’m in the place I need to be at the moment.”

It proved a tough meet for local hero Jah-Nhai Perinchief, who failed to progress to the final of the triple jump, ultimately settling for an eighth-place finish.

As the only Bermudian athlete competing, Perinchief had the full support of the expectant crowd but could manage a best jump of only 16.30 metres from his three attempts to miss out on the top six.

Will Claye went on to take victory, with his second attempt of 17.45 proving enough to claim a particularly poignant success for the American athlete.

“This is the furthest I’ve jumped since rupturing my Achilles in 2019 and so it puts me in a space where I feel like I’ve still got it,” he said.

“A lot of people in the sport started to doubt me, companies didn’t want to work with me any longer and meets didn’t want me competing. I think it’s safe to say I’m back and I deserve to be respected.

“My wife and I had our honeymoon here in Bermuda in 2018 and so it’s always been a special place to me.”

Elijah Morrow caused a major upset in the men’s 200 metres when beating Olympic champion Andre De Grasse.

Upsetting the odds: Elijah Morrow, left, shocked Olympic champion Andre De Grasse to win the 200-metres (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

American Morrow, who has shown steady improvement this season, capitalised on a quick start to hold off the hot favourite in a time of 20.11.

A disappointed DeGrasse, who refused to speak to the media after the race, clocked 20.28, just six thousandths of a second ahead of Kendal Williams.

“I wanted to be the first out of the turn and then just try to push on from there,” said Morrow. “It’s an honour to run with some of these guys, but I don’t try to focus on that sort of thing because at the end of the day we’re all just athletes.”

There was to be no shock in the 400 metres as reigning Olympic champion Steven Gardiner, of Bahamas, glided to a dominant victory, leaving the field behind to win in a season’s best 44.42.

Dominant display: reigning Olympic champion Steven Gardiner, of Bahamas, breezed to victory in the 400-metres ahead of compatriot Alonzo Russell, left (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Compatriot Alonzo Russell took second in 45.24, ahead of American two-time Olympic medal winner Trevor Stewart, who rounded out the podium in 45.58.

“The pressure is always there on me,” said Gardiner, who is targeting a podium place at the World Championships. “The world was watching and so I wanted to just go out there and have a successful race.

“I definitely want to be on that podium for sure at the World Championships and then get ready for the Paris Olympics next year.”

Laquan Nairn picked the perfect opportunity to clinch victory in the long jump, leaving it until his very last attempt to pip Steffin McCarter to glory.

Timed to perfection: Laquan Nairn clinched victory in the long-jump with his very last attempt to pip Steffin McCarter to glory (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

McCarter, of the USA, looked to have top spot wrapped up with a best attempt of 8.23 metres from his final two jumps, only for his Bahamian rival to leap 8.32 with his sixth and final effort.

Jamal Britt lived up to his favourite tag in the 110 metre hurdles, claiming the win in a time of 12.99 ahead of compatriots Eric Edwards (13.07) and Freddie Crittenden (13.13).

Expectations met: Jamal Britt lived up to his favourite tag to win the 110m hurdles (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Despite his success, Britt acknowledged there is room for improvement if he is to remain at the top of a fiercely competitive event.

“In the US, I feel as if this is the one of the best generations there has been,” he said. “It’s hard just to make the make the national team and so I’m happy to be considered among that.

“When I saw the first number was twelve, I was just really excited, but I still have plenty to work on to make sure I can keep beating these guys.”

There was also joy for Canada’s Rob Heppenstall, who was at his dominant best to win the 1500 in a time of 3min 41.83sec, comfortably ahead of Briton Ethan Hussey in 3:42:52, with Robert Napolitano, of Puerto Rico, completing the top three in a season’s best 3:42:87.

“I wanted to put myself in a position that would be challenging and so I’m really happy with the result,” said Heppenstall, who hailed the Bermuda crowd in his first visit to the island.

“In the final 300 metres I just tried to pick it up every 100 metres and then finish as strongly as I could.

“The crowd were just amazing, just crazy out there, it was electric. A crowd like that just makes the event so much better and makes us want to put on a proper show; it was really special.”

Making his move: Canada’s Rob Heppenstall looks to breakaway on his way to winning the 1500-metres (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published May 22, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated May 22, 2023 at 7:59 am)

Christian Coleman beats Noah Lyles in Bermuda Grand Prix sprint showdown

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